Yearbook 2016

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After introducing elliptic modular forms we consider Borcherds products as singular theta lifts on orthogonal groups. Finally we discuss a characterization of Borcherds products by symmetries. more
Grain growth is an intricate process during which the grain structure of a polycrystal coarsens. Efficient numerical schemes shed light on the statistical behavior of the overall structure. The underlying differential equation for the interfaces is mean curvature flow. The mathematical structure of the equation as a steepest descent in an energy landscape gives new insights and allows to develop and to analyze numerical algorithms. more
The MPCDF supports optimization of complex applications from material sciences, life sciences, astrophysics, plasma physics, and other disciplines for high-performance computers and offers data management services and infrastructure for all phases of the data life cycle. Moreover, the MPCDF provides data visualization services for the exploration and quantitative analysis of simulation results. The MPCDF plays a leading role in projects within the MPG and at national and European level. more
The exchange of nitrogen between the atmosphere and organic matter is crucial for life on Earth. One major route for this cycle, discovered only in the 1990s, is the anammox pathway that is found in certain bacteria. It proceeds via hydrazine, a highly reactive substance used by humans as a rocket fuel. A study of the structure of the enzymes involved in making and handling hydrazine in the bacterial cell offers striking insights into the possibilities of an unconventional intracellular chemistry. more
Ion channels are membrane proteins that regulate cellular processes by transmitting signals across membranes. Thus it is not surprising that they are also involved in cancer. In this respect, Kv10.1 is the most intensively studied potassium channel. It is overexpressed in over 70% of all cancer forms, and its expression level is up- and down-regulated during the cell cycle. This genetic regulation happens at the centre of signalling cascades involved in cancer and cell division regulation. Consequently, Kv10.1 represents a novel target for cancer treatment. more
Variations in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene are associated with obesity. The same variants of FTO affect dopamine-dependent midbrain responses and learning from negative outcomes in humans. They furthermore modulate the connectivity in a basic reward circuit of meso-striato-prefrontal regions and facilitate neural responses elicited by food cues. These findings provide evidence for FTO-specific differences in both brain structure and function in individuals, thereby contributing to a mechanistic understanding of why FTO is a predisposing factor for obesity. more
Reforestation is a widely discussed measure to combat the increase of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Earlier studies inferred from the effects of past land use changes to those of future reforestation. The global model simulations presented here show however that the potential of reforestation to sequester CO2 in a warm, CO2-rich world may be larger than anticipated. Adaptation to climate change continues to be necessary, but climate extremes may be dampened by reforestation. more
The conversion of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) into organic compounds is a key process in the global carbon cycle. In the past years, several novel pathways and enzymes for the conversion of CO2 were discovered in microorganisms. In parallel to these discoveries, new approaches were followed by using the methods of synthetic biology to establish artificial pathways for the fixation of CO2 that are more efficient compared to naturally existing CO2-fixation pathways. Synthetic CO2-fixation could pave the way towards novel applications in biotechnology and nanotechnology. more
The Research Group for Marine Glycobiology studies the microbial degradation of organic matter by bacteria. The substrates originate from marine algae. These algae convert huge amounts of carbon dioxide by photosynthesis into sugars, thereby forming the nutritional basis for heterotrophic organisms. On a global scale marine micro algae form the same amount of reduced carbon compounds like the whole biomass of terrestrial plants. And as a side effect they also produce half of the atmospheric oxygen. more
Density functional theory, the most widely used method for calculating the properties of molecules and solids, is limited by its reliance on the Born-Oppenheimer approximation – the assumption that nuclei move infinitely more slowly than electrons. Research conducted at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics has overcome this limitation, exploiting recent advances in the concept of Berry curvature to establish a density functional theory that fully accounts for nonadiabatic coupled electron-nuclear motion. more
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